Our Commitment to You

We know there are no guarantees that the 2020-2021 school year will proceed without interruption, despite our new health protocols and increased safety measures. We are committed to keeping our lines of communication open and to clearly communicate our plans. We know there are different rules for temporary closures depending on the specific situation and we will make the best decisions, with guidance from a team of doctors and health advisors, to ensure our community continues to thrive.

In case of a school closure, we will pivot to our robust “Virtual VBSDS” online program until it is deemed safe to return to our learning communities on campus.


Ultimately, every one of us has a role to play in making our plan a success. We must all do our part this school year to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, and limiting our community’s exposure. 

Thank you to all of the professionals and lay leaders who have supported us during this challenging time. We are more grateful than ever for our caring, warm and thoughtful community. 

Download the VBS Travel Policy HERE>
View Our Brit: A Covenant of Shared Responsibility

Mask wearing guide from LACDPH


VBS Day School Spring Break FAQs

HERE is a link with answers to frequently asked questions regarding spring break plans and gatherings. We hope that you will be mindful of these guidelines as you make plans.

Email Updates from our Day School

List of 20 items.

  • 3/9/2021 - Important Parking Lot and Carpool Reminders

    Dear VBSDS Families,
     
    We were delighted to welcome more students back to campus this week! Things have gone extremely smoothly and our students are so excited to be learning in person with friends! To ensure everyone’s safety and a continuous flow of traffic through the Sinder (main) parking lot, we want to remind you about the following procedures for student drop-off and pick-up:
    • Please ALWAYS enter the Sinder parking lot from the NORTH side of Densmore Ave. Do not turn onto Densmore from Ventura Blvd. but rather head north on Haskell Ave from Ventura Blvd. (south on Haskell if coming from the 101 freeway exit), turn left onto Morrison St. (right if from freeway) then left onto Densmore and line up along the west side of Densmore (facing south) until there is room to cross the Densmore/Moorpark intersection to turn RIGHT into the parking lot (See attached map for route).
    • Please DO NOT turn left into the Sinder parking lot. If you attempt to do so, you will be asked to turn around and enter from the north side of Densmore Ave. Our security guards will be monitoring this. 
    • Please do not line up along Moorpark St. as it interferes with ECC drop-off and pick-up and will delay your entry into the Sinder lot.
    • Only 3rd-6th graders may cross Densmore unaccompanied by an adult. All K-2 students must be accompanied by a VBS staff/faculty member. 3rd-6th grade siblings MAY NOT escort younger siblings across the street. 
    • Parents/guardians are not permitted to leave their cars or walk students on campus.
    • If K-2 students arrive late for drop off, a parent/guardian must walk them to the security booth and a faculty/staff member will be called to walk them to class. Parents are not allowed on campus. 
    • Please be sure that the Magnus app’s daily COVID-19 health assessment is completed BEFORE you enter the parking lot for drop-off each day.
    • During drop-off and pick-up, masks must be worn by everyone at all times.  
    RAINY DAY REMINDER
    With rain expected in the forecast this week, we want to be sure that your child(ren) is prepared for rainy days. We recommend sending a rain jacket, rain boots, umbrella, extra pair of shoes (if possible) and socks, so that your child(ren) can stay dry throughout the day. Drop-off and pick-up will be at the same times in the same locations in the Sinder lot.

    CARPOOL REMINDER
    Please DO NOT carpool to or from school with anyone outside of your household. If there is an emergency situation and you absolutely must, we ask that any child in the car from outside of your household be in your child's on campus kehillah (pod). Please also ensure that everyone in the car is masked at all times and that windows are down or outside air is pumped in via the A/C system. This being said, we HIGHLY discourage carpooling of any kind. Together, we must be diligent in our commitment to the wellbeing of our community.
     
    As always, thank you for your cooperation and patience.
     
    In Partnership,
     
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 3/2/2021 - Spring Break COVID-19 Testing

    Dear VBSDS Families,
     
    Thank you for continuing to take our community brit seriously, especially as we make our way into spring break. In our commitment to shmirat ha’briyut, putting the health of the community above all else, VBS schools are requiring a negative PCR COVID-19 test for all students, faculty and staff prior to a return to campus, following spring break. For our school, this means mandatory testing for K-6th grade students who plan to learn on campus in April.
     
    TIMELINE
    So that your family can best plan for the testing and back to school processes, please note the following important dates:
    • Tuesday, March 30 - Thursday, April 1, 2021: 
    K-6th grade students who plan to learn on campus starting April 5 will be required to get a COVID-19 PCR test between these dates.
    Throat, nasal or cheek swab PCR tests are all acceptable. Rapid tests are not.
    • You may schedule a test on your own through your healthcare provider or LA County.
    • You may also sign up for a test at VBS on Wednesday, March 31. Testing is only available to VBS Day School and ECC students. You must register in advance and bring THESE completed documents for each individual being tested. If you have not tested at VBS before, please also bring copies of your insurance card (one per test). All paperwork MUST be completed and printed prior to arriving on campus. We hope to have test results available to all families by Friday, April 2 for an option to return to campus on Monday, April 5HERE is a link to register for a test at VBS on March 31. Please sign up by Tuesday, March 30 at noon.
    • All school faculty/staff will require a negative PCR test as well.
    • Friday, April 2, 2021: 
    All test results not administered at VBS must be submitted to Nurse Marcie Spetner at vbsdshealthoffice@vbsds.org by Friday, April 2 at 3:00 p.m.

    It is important for us all to remember that testing does not prevent an individual from transmitting and/or acquiring COVID-19. It is not a substitute for distancing from people outside of your household, wearing face coverings, hand washing and/or avoiding crowds. A negative COVID-19 test and/or vaccination do not grant permission to disregard safety protocols.
    • Monday, April 5: 
    School begins (including in person instruction) following spring break

    UPDATED TRAVEL & QUARANTINE POLICY
    As you make plans for spring break, please be mindful of VBS’ community-wide travel and quarantine policy (updated March 1) with quarantine requirements, including those for ALL travel (car, plane or train) outside of the Southern California region. Due to decreasing COVID-19 cases in our region, this policy may change in the coming days/weeks, and we will be sure to keep you updated. In the interim, click HERE to review the full travel policy as it currently stands, and not hesitate to reach out to Matthew Weintraub, VBS Executive Director, with questions.
     
    SPRING BREAK FAQS
    HERE is a link with answers to frequently asked questions regarding spring break plans and gatherings. We hope that you will be mindful of these guidelines as you make plans.

    We also request that you please continue to keep sick children home from school and communicate with Nurse Marcie Spetner (vbsdshealthoffice@vbsds.org or 818-530-4063) regarding school absences. You can review the most up-to-date sick policy for our VBS schools HERE
     
    We all see the light at the end of the tunnel! Now more than ever, we must band together, follow protocols and practice behaviors that make our community proud.

    With Deep Appreciation,
     
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School

    Marcie Spetner, R.N.
    School Nurse
  • 2/23/2021 - Important March 8 Full Campus Reopening Information

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    We are excited to offer the option for full time, five days a week on campus instruction for all grades (K-6) beginning Monday, March 8. We have been working to finalize our on campus school day schedule and logistics, so that you can make plans for your family in the weeks to come. With more children on campus, we have made modifications to our schedules and protocols to comply with LA County’s COVID-19 guidelines.

    As always, we are committed to providing multiple formats of instruction (hybrid learning), including synchronous, remote learning. If your child plans to continue to learn virtually, please notify your General Studies teacher by Thursday, February 25. If your child has not been on campus and plans to return, a negative COVID-19 PCR test is required. For more information, please contact Nurse Marcie ASAP at vbsdshealthoffice@vbsds.org

    MARCH 2 PARENT Q&A SESSION 
    Please join us Tuesday, March 2 at 7:30pm for a Questions & Answer session about the full on campus reopening process. 

    SCHEDULE
    Below is an overview of the school day length per grade beginning Monday, March 8, as well as updated drop-off and pick-up times.

    IMPORTANT: Please note that some times have changed:
    MORNING DROP-OFF IN THE SINDER (MAIN) PARKING LOT
    • Only 3rd-6th graders may cross Densmore unaccompanied by an adult. All K-2 students must be accompanied by a VBS staff/faculty member. 3rd-6th grade siblings MAY NOT escort younger siblings across the street. 
    • If K-2 students arrive late, a parent/guardian must walk them to the security booth and a faculty/staff member will be called to walk them to class. Parents are not allowed on campus. 
    • Please be sure that the Magnus app’s daily COVID-19 health assessment is completed BEFORE you enter the parking lot for drop-off each day.
    • Parents/guardians are not permitted to leave their cars or walk students on campus.
    • During drop-off, masks must be worn by everyone in cars at all times. 
     
    AFTERNOON PICK-UP  IN THE SINDER (MAIN) PARKING LOT
    • If you have a child in grades K-2, you will need to go through the carpool line at 2:40 or 3:00pm, and then re-enter for the later pick up times.
    • We ask that all cars please enter the Sinder lot from the north side of Densmore. Drivers are asked NOT to turn onto Densmore from Ventura Blvd., but rather head north on Haskell Avenue from Ventura Blvd (south on Haskell if coming from the 101 freeway exit), turn left onto Morrison St. (right if from the freeway), then left onto Densmore and line up along the west side of Densmore (facing south) until there is room to cross the Densmore/Moorpark intersection to turn right into the Sinder Parking Lot. This simple change in route will reduce congestion at the busy intersection where students are crossing the street. It is a safety measure for the sake of our community. Please do not line up on Moorpark St., as it will interfere with the ECC’s 3:00pm pick-up and delay your entrance into the lot.

    PLEASE DO NOT CARPOOL TO OR FROM SCHOOL
    We ask that you please not carpool to or from school with anyone outside of your household. If there is an emergency situation and you absolutely must, we ask that any child in the car from outside of your household be in your child's on campus kehillah (pod). Please also ensure that everyone in the car is masked at all times and that windows are down or outside air is pumped in via the A/C system. This being said, we HIGHLY discourage carpooling of any kind. Together, we must be diligent in our commitment to the wellbeing of our community.

    LUNCH & SNACKS
    • Lunch for many graders will be later than “usual.” Please pack a healthy snack or two so that your child does not get hungry.
    • Hot lunch meals catered by LA Kosher, VBS’ in house caterer, are available for purchase to all on campus families on a weekly basis. If you choose not to order hot lunch, please send a dairy/parve lunch with your child(ren). All on campus families can order hot lunch by Wednesday, March 3 at 5:00pm in order to receive lunch the week of March 8. Click HERE to learn more and sign up for hot lunch. If you have any hot lunch questions or ordering issues, please contact Lisa Suman at lsuman@vbsds.org. Starting the week of March 8, you must register by Tuesdays at 5:00pm in order to receive hot lunch for the following week.

    HYBRID INSTRUCTION & HEADPHONES
    It is important to note that while students will be on campus, some instruction will still be virtual, meaning the instructor(s) will not be in the classrooms. This is being done to avoid the mixing of our stable kehillot (pods). A supervising adult (General Studies teacher and/or TA) will be in the classroom at all times. If you have not done so already, we ask that you please purchase headphones with a microphone for your child. Headphones will ensure that students are able to participate in classroom learning to its fullest. Headphones must have a microphone, be wired (not Bluetooth), and sit over the ear. THIS prior school communication includes a few suggestions for headphones.
     
    AFTER SCHOOL SPORTS
    Our 3rd-6th grade after school sports program will continue as planned for the weeks of March 8 and March 15. Below is the weekly schedule:
    • Mondays: 3rd grade
    • Tuesdays: 4th grade
    • Wednesdays: 6th grade
    • Thursdays: 5th grade 
    After school, students enrolled in the sports program will meet in the lunch area for a snack. Please be sure to pack an extra snack or two for this time. Sports activities will take place from approximately 3:30-4:40pm. Pick up will be in the Reznik (small) lot at 4:45pm. For students enrolled in after school sports who are learning remotely, drop-off will take place from 3:20-3:30pm in the Reznik lot. Parents dropping off at this time MUST complete the Magnus Health app BEFORE entering the parking lot. Students will not be allowed out of the car without the Magnus green “Go.” 
     
    LET’S COMMIT TO KEEPING OUR COMMUNITY SAFE
    This is the time to continue to practice the forms of mitigation and containment that have led us to this moment of hope and excitement. Please wear face coverings, wash hands frequently and maintain physical distance from those outside of your household. Together, we can keep this positive momentum moving forward. As you make plans for spring break, please also be mindful of VBS’ community wide travel policy. Further communication about the return from spring break and baseline testing will be shared in the next few days.

    We are thrilled to offer all of our families the opportunity for a full time return to campus and we look forward to the prospect of a more “normal” looking spring semester! 

    Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding, as we take these steps together as one community. 

    Warmly,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School

    Nancy Herbst
    Director of General Studies

    Tamar Raff
    Director of Judaic Studies
  • 2/18/2021 - Important Campus Reopening Update

    Dear VBS Day School Families,

    Tonight, our Board of Trustees voted to offer full time, five days a week on campus instruction for all grades (K-6) beginning the week of March 8. This comes following Monday night’s LA County announcement that elementary schools (TK-6) that have obtained on campus learning waivers or submitted COVID-19 safety plans (VBSDS has done both) may now reopen for on campus learning full time, five days a week. This is an exciting milestone for our school community and we are thrilled to take steps forward!

    It remains our top priority to offer multiple formats of instruction, including remote learning, and to invite all students to learn on campus, full time, if families so choose. Below is an overview of the schedule leading up to a full on campus reopening on March 8.


    If your child plans to continue to learn virtually (as of March 8), please notify your General Studies teacher by Thursday, February 25. If your child has not been on campus and plans to return on March 8, a negative COVID-19 PCR test is required. For more information, please contact Nurse Marcie at vbsdshealthoffice@vbsds.org

    We are especially thrilled to share that all of our current teachers will be returning to campus to continue the hybrid model for students in grades 1-6! This means that there will be synchronous learning for those learning on campus and virtually. For kindergarten, we will still have one designated virtual class (KV). Our administrative team has been working tirelessly on a schedule and detailed plan (including adjustments to pick-up and drop-off times) for the week of March 8 and beyond. This scheduling process is exceptionally complex due to LA County Department of Health’s regulations for lunch, recess, classroom setup, kehillot (pod) continuity, and drop-off/pick-up.

    This is the time to continue to practice the forms of mitigation and containment that have led us to this moment of hope. Please wear face coverings, wash hands frequently and maintain physical distance from those outside of your household. Together, we can keep this positive momentum moving forward. As you make plans for spring break, please also be mindful of VBS’ community wide travel policy.

    If you have any questions about this further reopening process or timeline, please reply to this e-mail. We look forward to sharing additional details about schedules and logistics very soon.

    In Partnership,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
     
    Roslyn I. Grinberg
    Board President
  • 2/16/2021 - LA County TK-6 Campus Reopening Update

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    Last night it was announced that Los Angeles County hit the state’s milestone for allowing elementary schools (TK-6) to fully reopen for on campus learning. Schools that have obtained on campus learning waivers or submitted COVID-19 safety plans in advance (VBSDS has done both) are potentially eligible to fully reopen beginning today, Tuesday, February 16.  

    While the media has picked up on the press release with this news, the LA County Department of Health has yet to issue further guidelines for our team to interpret and apply to VBSDS. Our school and its campus reopening team will continue to closely monitor all COVID-19 news and updates. It remains our top priority to continue to offer multiple formats of instruction, including remote learning, and to invite all students with the opportunity to learn on campus full time if families so choose. This being said, before we add more students on site, we must ensure that our protocols and safety measures are strategically fleshed out. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of the LA County Department of Health, will hold a press conference this afternoon to provide details about the reopening process, and we hope to share more news in the days to come. In addition, with more children on campus, aspects of the school day and schedule, including classroom/desk setup, lunch, and drop-off/pick-up, must be ironed out. It is also important that we speak with our teaching team and give them time to prepare for a fuller reopening.

    This hopeful news comes at a time when our school is feeling well prepared for further on campus transition. We are so proud that in the past two weeks we have provided an opportunity for all K-6 families who wish to have their children learn on campus do so at least one day a week. What this news means for our community today is that we will continue our current schedule and review further county and state guidelines as they emerge.  

    We greatly appreciate your continued patience and support, and look forward to the prospect of a more “normal” looking spring semester!

    Warmly,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School

    Roslyn Grinberg
    Board President
  • 2/10/2021 - Student COVID-19 Pool Testing Begins 2/16

    Dear VBSDS Families,
     
    As part of our commitment to shmirat ha’briyut, putting the health of the community above all else, beginning February 16 VBS Day School will be surveillance (ongoing) “pool testing” a small number of students in each on campus kehillah (pod) every other week. Our hope is that this process will further mitigate risk and prevent community transmission.
     
    Pool testing aggregates a random sample within the on campus school community to gauge whether or not any particular pod may have a COVID-19 case. Using this testing format, not every student is tested every time testing is offered. Parents will be notified the Friday before their child’s test. In order to widen the sample of the community, siblings WILL NOT be tested in the same week. For your convenience and to minimize disruption to classroom instruction, cheek swab testing for K-6th graders, administered in the car by parents, will take place Monday-Thursday during morning carpool in the Sinder parking lot. Every other week, we will test approximately three students per on campus kehillah. Students will be rotated over time. Nurse Marcie Spetner or a school administrator will oversee the process. HERE is a video that explains the cheek swab testing protocol. If a student’s test comes back positive, Nurse Marcie or the lab will be in touch with the family ASAP and will advise regarding next steps.

    Each time a child is tested, THIS paperwork must be completed and submitted. Paperwork will be provided for completion by parents the morning of the test. 
     
    Our school continues to be a pioneer when it comes to COVID-19 policies and protocols. Pool testing is just another way that we can all work together to keep our community safe and healthy. If you have any questions about this process, please reach out to Nurse Marcie at vbsdshealthoffice@vbsds.org. Thank you all for your support.
     
    Best,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 2/3/2021 - Cohort Size Update

    Dear VBS Day School Parents,

    We are delighted to have enrolled several new students in our school in the past few weeks, and we look forward to potentially welcoming even more new students to VBSDS in the days/weeks to come. This is very exciting news and we are thrilled at the prospect of inviting new students and families into the warmth of our community. 
     
    We are reaching out to provide confirmation and solace that if your child is currently learning remotely, and you decide to transition to an on campus format next month or in a month to come, your child’s “spot” on campus will be available! As we have communicated previously, your decision to have your student learn on campus is non-binding and can change month to month (for grades 1-6; the K policy is a bit different). The policy for grades 1-6 is explained in THIS prior communication. 
     
    We also learned last week that the required cohort (kehillot) size for K-12 schools in Los Angeles County has officially been increased from 12 to 14. This allows our school greater flexibility with regard to transitioning virtual learners to campus if and when the time is right for your family. 
     
    If you have any questions about this enrollment process and/or learning format, please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly.
     
    Warmly,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
     
    Michelle Berkowitz
    Director of Admissions & Marketing
  • 1/21/2021 - Grades 3-6 Return to Campus

    Dear VBS Day School Families,
     
    We look forward to welcoming 1st-6th grade students back to campus the week of February 1. 
    Prior to a return to campus, in honor of our Jewish value of shmirat ha’briut, we will once again require a negative COVID-19 PCR baseline test for each student that plans to learn in person during the month of February.
     
    While an on campus learning option will be available five days a week for K-2nd graders, two days a week for 3rd graders and one day a week for 4th-6th graders, Virtual VBSDS is steadfast and will remain an option for those who choose to or must learn remotely. Students learning from home will learn synchronously with the live classes through new technology installed in our classrooms.

    To help cultivate a consistent learning environment, this is a reminder that we are asking 1st-6th grade parents to please commit to a learning format (in person or virtual) month to month. If you plan to change your child’s learning format for the month to come (from what was previously selected), please let your child’s General Studies teacher know no later than the 25th of each month. Since our testing will be held on January 25, for the upcoming month of February we have extended this notification deadline to Wednesday, January 27Please notify your child’s teacher ONLY if you plan to make a change in the month to come.  
     
    VBS TESTING INFORMATION
    VBS Day School will hold an on site testing day on Monday, January 25 from 8:00am-4:25pm. Click HERE to sign up for a timeslot. If you choose to test elsewhere, it must be a PCR test (not a rapid test), and you may do so January 24, 25 or 26. Negative PCR test results must be submitted to Nurse Marcie Spetner at vbsdshealthoffice@vbsds.org by 12pm on Thursday, January 28
    With regard to the VBS Day School on site testing day, please note the following:
    • Testing is only available to VBS Day School students.
    • You must register in advance and bring THESE completed documents for each individual being tested, plus copies of your child’s insurance card (one copy per test).
    • All paperwork MUST be completed and printed prior to arriving on campus. We will not have spare copies of the forms available on campus.
    • Rain is expected for much of next week. For this reason, testing will take place indoors in Sher-Lopaty.

    RETURN TO CAMPUS OPTION FOR GRADES 1-6 RESUMES FEBRUARY 1
    Beginning February 1, grades 1 and 2 will have the opportunity to resume their five day a week on campus program and grades 3-6 are invited to begin a hybrid learning program. Scheduling details and back to school reminders for upper grades can be found HERE. Changes to afternoon pick-up can be found HERE. Later this week, we will send sign-up information for hot lunch for grades 1-6 and after school sports for grades 3-6. After school sports will also begin the week of February 1.
     
    As we all know, this will continue to be a year of unexpected changes and adjustments. While we are committed to our plan to return to campus in February, we do not know what (if any) potential city, county or state orders may be presented, which could affect our projected timeline and plans. If the timeline outlined above changes, we will update you ASAP. We thank you for your ongoing patience and support as we continuously adjust to ensure we are aligned with protocols, while prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our community.
     
    In Partnership,
     
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 1/8/2021 - On Campus Postponement

    Dear VBS Day School Families,

    We hoped that with the start of 2021 we would be in a new place with regard to COVID-19.  Unfortunately, this still feels like an endless struggle. We appreciate your partnership and know that having your children at home, learning virtually, comes with many challenges to family routines and schedules. This reality weighs heavily on us and we do sincerely consider the option for in person instruction for all students to be a priority.

    This afternoon Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer publicly called for K-12 schools to halt in person instruction for at least three weeks, until the end of January. This is a serious plea from County leadership given the incredible surge of COVID-19 cases across Los Angeles and the State of California. The decision is fully aligned with VBS’ ongoing commitment to shmirat ha’briyut, putting the health of the community above all else.

    To ensure we serve as models across the broader community and because of this public health recommendation, our Day School has made the very difficult decision to have all students learn remotely through at least January 29, 2021. We will continue to reassess this decision week to week and/or as further County direction is provided. All after school sports will also cease for the time being. Hot lunch credits will be applied to student accounts and all after school sports registration fees will be fully refunded.

    As we have learned throughout this global pandemic, flexibility is essential. We recognize that for many of us, this is disappointing, while for others it is met with relief. The year has been and will continue to be a series of adjustments, changes and recalibrations… Sometimes all in the same day! We are eager to offer maximum choice for learning format to families and students as soon as possible. In the interim, we deeply appreciate your understanding, patience and partnership. 

    If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or a member of the administrative team.

    Stay Safe,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School

    Roslyn Grinberg
    Chair, Board of Trustees
  • 11/17/2020 - A Commitment to Community Wellbeing

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is prudent for us to reflect gratitude and offer thanks to our remarkable teachers and staff, to the community that holds us together, and to our children, who despite the restraints of this crisis, exhibit radiance, hope, and joy.

    As we read the headlines about COVID-19 spreading so intensely and quickly across our state and country, it is time for us to come together as a community and remember the Jewish value of shmirat ha’briyut, putting the health of the community above all else. Now is NOT the time for us to let our guards down. Together, we must be mindful of our behavior, of one another, and of our entire community.  This pandemic has taught us that each day and each choice affects not only our own families, but the collective.

    With an increase in LA County cases and the transition to on campus learning for K-2nd grade students, positive cases are inevitable. In addition, the weather is cooler, which means we are moving more activities indoors. We are also entering cold and flu season. There is no reason to believe that our community will be immune to the trends that our city, state and nation are experiencing.

    In VBS Day School’s commitment to transparency, emet, as these trends continue, you will hear from us frequently. With over 110 VBS ECC students and 80 Day School students on campus, and hundreds of employees between the Temple and schools, we have a lot at stake! We MUST listen to all LA County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) recommendations and guidelines. These guidelines are only effective if we model them together, united in mission and purpose. 

    While nearly nine months of restrictions have led to fatigue and lenience in some households, it is time for us to make a pledge to one another to be vigilant. The LA County Public Health Director recently shared, “As a community and as individuals, we’re going to need to be laser-focused on reducing transmission; to say many lives are at stake is not an exaggeration.” Every family assesses risk differently, and every family makes different choices. As we discussed in our brit, our community commitment to one another, it is imperative that every family fully partner with our school in its mission of shmirat ha’briyut. This is what a commitment to community wellbeing looks like in action:

    • As per LACDPH small gathering guidelines, no more than three families should be together at a time. Any such gatherings should be outside, masked and physically distanced. As the weather gets colder, please do not be tempted to move these gatherings indoors. 
    • Families should NOT host in person parties (even small ones) or get together for playdates. Gatherings like these are the quickest ways to spread the virus.

    • When you leave your home, masks should be worn at all times.

    • Please be mindful of VBS’ travel policy when it comes to travel by plane and/or train. Click HERE to review the full document.

    • We recommend that you NOT carpool to school with those outside of your household. If you absolutely must, please ensure that everyone in the car is masked and that windows are down or outside air is pumped in via the A/C system. In addition, children of separate households should not sit in the same row.

    As case numbers increase, it is possible that an LA County “Safer at Home” order may be issued once again. The only way to help avoid this is for us to take all of our actions very seriously.

    Baseline COVID-19 tests will be required for on campus learners following winter break. For your convenience, VBSDS will offer an on site testing day. For a few days immediately following winter break, all students will learn virtually until the test results are received by our school. We believe that this process is the best way to reduce risk for our families, employees, and students. More information and specifics will be shared soon. It is imperative to understand that testing does NOT prevent people from transmitting and acquiring COVID-19. It is not a substitute for distancing from people outside of your household, wearing face coverings, hand washing and avoiding crowds. A negative COVID-19 test does not grant permission to disregard safety protocols. 

    With Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fast-approaching, we hope that you will be extremely mindful of this very serious commitment to community health. Together, we truly do have the power to slow the spread. If you have any questions about these community expectations, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at hos@vbsds.org.

    United as one VBSDS community, I know that we can serve as models for others and practice behavior that makes us all proud.

    With Appreciation,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 10/30/2020 - Welcoming First & Second Grade To Campus

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    We are extremely excited to share that we will offer the option for first and second graders to learn on campus beginning Monday, November 9, 2020. Los Angeles County is currently allowing elementary schools to bring up to 25% of full student enrollment on to campus to support high need students. At VBS Day School, we are defining “high need” students as our youngest learners. Detailed information and next steps will be shared with first and second grade families in the next 48 hours. Kindergarten will continue to operate on campus under VBS’ Early Childhood Center license.

    The first and second grade on campus school day will be 8:30am-3:00pm. Morning drop-off will take place between 8:15am and 8:30am and pick-up will be at 3:00pm. Adding first and second grade kehillot on campus will mean a slight adjustment to after school sports and art club schedules. We will share these updates very soon. In the interim, K-2 families, please save the date for a Q&A session with our administrative team on Monday, November 2 at 7:00pm. We are inviting kindergarten families to the Q&A to understand what having additional students on campus will look like. A Zoom link and further information will be sent to all K-2 families soon. 

    A return to campus during this time means that the on campus experience will look and feel different than in years past. Participation in the Q&A session will best inform first and second grade families on how to talk to and prepare child(ren) for the transition to on campus learning. We invite our community to come together and explore the ways we will continue to minimize risk for our teachers, students and families. We will also discuss the shared responsibility we each have in keeping one another healthy and safe. 

    Virtual VBSDS will remain in place for those with students learning from home. We realize that this school year will be filled with starts and stops. Rest assured that Virtual VBSDS is steadfast and its programming will continue to be meaningful and robust. While the Q&A will mostly revolve around logistics of the on campus start, there will also be information for families who plan to continue to learn virtually.

    We request that all students submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test prior to a return to campus. VBSDS will offer an on campus testing opportunity for first and second grade students on Monday, November 2 from 1:00-3:30pm. If you choose to test on campus, you must bring your insurance card (or a copy) and THIS form should be fully complete upon arrival. Families must also complete the Magnus health screening app before entering campus. More information about the app will be shared with first and second grade families in an upcoming communication. If you choose not to test on campus, you may do so on your own time. Tests are available through LA County HERE and should be administered this Monday-Thursday. Results are due to VBSDSHealthOffice@vbsds.org by Friday, November 6 at 11:00am.

    The VBSDS team is thrilled to offer first and second grade families the opportunity for a return to campus and we look forward to a smooth transition.
     
    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School

    Nancy Herbst
    Director of General Studies

    Tamar Raff
    Director of Judaic Studies
  • 10/09/2020 - Waiver Application

    Dear VBSDS Community,
     
    We hope that you enjoyed the week and the joy of welcoming Sukkot!
     
    Last Thursday we shared an update regarding the LA County elementary school campus reopening process. Monday afternoon, the LA County Department of Public Health waiver application for TK-2 was posted online and available for public and private schools to complete and submit. Detailed information on the waiver process can be found HERE. The full application requests information about our school, all COVID-19 protocols (including a containment and pandemic response plan), and letters of support from key community stakeholders, including our board, faculty/staff, and the Parent Organization.

    This afternoon we submitted our waiver application to the County in order to best serve our youngest learners. The timeline for reopening with the waiver remains unclear. We are proud and confident that our application will be highly considered because we successfully operated an on campus summer camp for all elementary ages, and in conjunction with VBS’ ECC, we currently have four kindergarten kehillot (pods) open on campus, as well as a fifth kehillah comprised of VBS/VBSDS children of faculty/staff who need to work on site.
     
    Opening first and second grade classes on campus under the VBSDS administration will mean an addition of only four (maximum) more kehillot to the five that are already operating on site.  This is a reminder that just because we submit a waiver application does not necessarily mean that VBSDS will be granted the opportunity for on campus learning for first and second graders.

    At present, here is what we do know:
    • The issuance of waivers will be prioritized for schools with high percentages of low income students who qualify for government subsidized meals (VBSDS has students in this category, however, the majority of our families are not.).

    • To start, no more than 30 applications per week will be approved. Unclaimed waivers for any given week will be redistributed to other schools that have applied. The 30 schools per week will be equally distributed between the five supervisorial districts.

    • The County metrics (statistics and data on COVID-19) continue to change daily, and are tied to the reopening process and timeline. This means that we all need to continue to reduce potential spread of the virus. 

    • The County board will review the waiver process on a bi-weekly basis and make adjustments as needed.

    In preparation for a continuation of on campus reopening, our teachers, staff and administration are working tirelessly to put finishing touches on a multifaceted program that will allow for hybrid learning- simultaneously serving students from home and the classroom. This will ensure that every family has a choice, and families that wish to continue distance learning will have that option. More information on this will be shared soon.

    As we enter flu season, we encourage families to get the flu vaccine ASAP and be diligent in monitoring symptoms. HERE is an article that explains how to best identify flu versus COVID-19 symptoms. This will be helpful in the weeks/months to come, as we work to prevent a “twindemic.” If we want the option to keep our campus open, we all need to do our part. Please continue to wear masks, social distance and wash hands frequently. This is essential to slow the spread of COVID-19, the flu and/or other viruses.

    Thank you again for your steadfast patience and partnership. We will keep you updated as the road to on campus learning becomes more clear. 
     
    Shabbat Shalom,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 10/01/2020 - Waiver Update

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    We hope that our K-2 families enjoyed Back to School night last night, and we look forward to “seeing” our 3-6 grade families this evening via Zoom!

    As we head into Shabbat and Sukkot, I wanted to share an LA County elementary school campus reopening update. Yesterday, LA County Department of Public Health shared that its school waiver program will begin accepting applications for TK-2nd grade on campus instruction in early October. You can read the full County update HERE

    Here is the information we have:
    • The exact waiver application opening date was not announced
    • The issuance of waivers will be prioritized for schools with high percentages of students qualified for government subsidized meals (which does not apply to VBSDS)
    • To start, 30 applications will be approved per week and unclaimed waivers for any given week are to be redistributed to other schools that have applied 
    • The county metrics (statistics and data on COVID-19) continue to change daily, and are tied to the re-opening process, we all need to continue to reduce potential spread of the virus
    • The county board will review this process on a bi-weekly basis and make adjustments as needed
    While we are uncertain of when VBSDS in particular may be given the opportunity to apply for a waiver, when the time comes, we will be ready! Led by our VBS Pandemic Response Team, our safety procedures and protocols are in place. In addition, our teachers, staff and administration are working tirelessly to put finishing touches on a multifaceted program that will allow for hybrid learning- simultaneously serving students from home and the classroom. As the timeline for the waiver application process for our community becomes more clear, we will share further information about next steps and the implementation of the option to continue remotely or return to campus.
    While things are ever-changing, VBSDS continues to be committed to transparency and clear communication. Thank you again for your steadfast patience and partnership, as we take these steps together, one by one. An early Shabbat Shalom, and wishing you a meaningful Sukkot- Chag Sameach.
     
    Warmly,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 09/25/2020 - Late September COVID Update

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    Shanah Tovah to one and all! As we enter a new year and pause to reflect on 5780, I want to take a moment to connect and provide you with reassurance that your VBSDS community is here for you in partnership in 5781 and beyond.

    We all understand that this academic year will continue to look quite different. While continuously optimistic, we are also realistic and know that the year may include several shifts, recalibrations, starts and stops. We are living through an international pandemic and we are all learning and growing together! United in partnership, I know that we will continue to make the school year meaningful, enriching and a safe space for our students and families to explore, learn and grow. 

    Led by our VBS Pandemic Response Team, we continue to diligently monitor state and county community health updates. COVID-19 case numbers remain on the decline in LA County and we hope that this trend continues and our local government deems it safe for an option for students to return to campus soon. HERE is a recent, detailed Q&A from the County about the school reopening process. While the timeline for the launch of a potential on campus option for grades 1-6 is still unknown, we are working tirelessly behind the scenes to develop a multifaceted program that will allow for hybrid learning- simultaneously serving students learning from home and from the classroom. This includes an investment in essential technology like cameras, which will provide students learning from home with the most optimal, inclusive experience possible. This preparation means using our weekly faculty meetings to hone in on cutting edge remote instruction pedagogy and how to use the technology to most enhance student learning. We call these meetings “Wired Wednesdays” and they are led by Nathaniel Hanna, VBSDS' Director of Academic Technology, with support from VBS/VBSDS' Director of IT & Media, Morris Hunter.

    We acknowledge that at any given time not all families with students learning from home will have opted into a virtual program. For example, a family exposed to COVID-19 may need to quarantine and learn virtually for a minimum of two weeks. This is why it is of utmost importance for all families to be familiar with and focused on the high caliber of technology and online accessibility that we plan to provide. As the timeline for the launch of this new technology becomes more clear, we will share more about our virtual, hybrid program and its implementation, as well as the safety measures that will be in place for all on campus learners. We are hopeful that the number of cases in Los Angeles (and everywhere) will continue to decrease and that the time for this will be sooner rather than later! I look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks to come.

    In the interim, and as we have shared all summer long, we would like to emphasize the part we all play in keeping our community healthy and safe. Please continue to avoid gatherings with people outside of your household, wash hands frequently and wear a face covering when you leave your home. 

    Thank you again for your continued patience and partnership in a time that is anything but predictable. It is the support of our families that keeps our teachers, staff and volunteers inspired and renewed each and every day. Again, Shanah Tovah and may we all be sealed in the book of blessing and life.

    Warmly,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 08/30/2020 - Important Parent Update

    Dear VBSDS Community:

    In preparation for school opening on campus, and as an extra precautionary measure, we required COVID-19 testing for all staff and teachers in both the Day School and ECC. Late last night we received notification that an ECC staff member tested positive for COVID-19. We understand this may cause concern, and we want to reassure you that the purpose of baseline testing was to prevent cases from spreading. While we must protect the privacy of the person involved, we believe it best to communicate transparently with you. The staff member is asymptomatic and feeling fine. The ECC administration has been in touch to provide care and support. We have designed our frequent employee testing procedures to be more often than recommended by the county and state. 

    WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?
    There is nothing more important to us than the safety and health of our students, our staff and their families. We understand that living in the time of COVID-19 is full of uncertainty. Our preparation and policies for a variety of scenarios have allowed us to swiftly address the situation. 
     
    We have taken the following steps:
    • Day School will begin tomorrow, August 31, both virtually for all grades and on campus for some Kindergarten families, and the ECC will open on Wednesday, September 9 as planned
    • The staff member is complying with the LA County Department of Public Health’s protocols regarding isolation, quarantine and contact tracing
    • We worked with the staff member to determine potential close contacts, and have already notified those people
    • We are cleaning and sanitizing the facility per regulations and protocols
    • We mobilized our COVID-19 Compliance Task Force and have notified the LA County Department of Public Health to review our Exposure Management Plan with them
    • We will continue to test our staff on rotation every other week
    COVID-19 TRANSMISSION
    COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact and through the exchange of respiratory droplets. Even though case numbers continue to decline in LA County, we must continue to be vigilant. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you or any member of your family exhibit these symptoms, please contact your medical provider for advice immediately. Symptoms usually appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

    COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact and through the exchange of respiratory droplets. Even though case numbers continue to decline in LA County, we must continue to be vigilant. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you or any member of your family exhibit these symptoms, please contact your medical provider for advice immediately. Symptoms usually appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

    Please remember that a “close contact” includes: a household member, intimate contact, or caregiver of a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case; being within 6 feet of the confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case for more than 15 minutes, even if wearing a non-medical face covering.

    HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19
    The CDC and LA County Public Health recommend the following best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds 
    • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available 
    • Avoid close contact with those who are sick 
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve
    • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose 
    • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects 
    • Stay at home when you are sick
    • Practice social distancing, leaving at least six feet between you and other people 
    • Wear a cloth mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain

    Our greatest priority is the safety of our students, staff and community members. 

    We are grateful for the opportunity to educate your children and we are committed to providing you with the most up-to-date and clear information. We are always here to answer any questions.

    Warmly,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School, VBSDS

    Abby Andiman Mars
    VBS ECC Director

    Matthew Weintraub
    VBS Executive Director
  • 08/10/2020 - Celebrating our Camps

    Dear VBSDS Community,

    I hope that your week is off to a great start!

    As many of you know, last Friday concluded our four week Camp Kef On Campus. We were delighted to provide families with an opportunity for their children to connect in person and experience a sense of summer “normalcy” and routine during a time that is anything but normal!

    I am proud to report that Camp ran very smoothly with students social-distancing, wearing face coverings, washing hands many times per day and following the same protocols we will have in place when students return to campus for learning. I was so impressed by our students, especially our youngest campers, who followed the rules set in place with diligence and grace. It was amazing to see campers in action, and both parents and students have expressed their gratitude. We are also proud to share that a surprise in-person inspection by the Los Angeles County Department of Health yielded a glowing report. Camp Kef met and surpassed all health and safety requirements set forth by the County. We truly knocked it out of the park! A special “thank you” to our incredible Camp Kef On Campus team, led by Rabbi Avi Taff and Art Specialist Lisa Suman, who paved the way for such a successful experience, and to Orit Rappaport, Operations and Facilities Manager and VBS’ Pandemic Response Coordinator, whose insight and assistance were invaluable.

    In addition to Camp Kef On Campus, we also held a six week virtual Camp Kef-Connected. Over 115 campers had a well-rounded, enriching and FUN experience cooking, coding, reading, singing, crafting, baking challah and more! This virtual program would not have been possible without our innovative Camp Kef-Connected leadership team (also led by Rabbi Avi Taff), as well as guest instructors.

    Thank you to the VBSDS Board of Trustees and the many generous donors (listed below) who made the vision for this camp a reality. Due to overwhelming community support, we were able to offer the virtual camp experience free of charge to all VBS families. The sessions were thoughtful, creative and helped children maintain a sense of connection to their friends and to VBSDS throughout the summer.

    During a challenging time, it is imperative that we all take a moment to celebrate these victories and points of connection. I am proud to be part of this community and am looking forward to building on the successes of our camps as we move into the school year. 

    Warmly,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 08/04/2020 - Fall 2020 Updates

  • 07/31/2020 - Important Parent Update

    Dear VBSDS Community,

    I hope you are doing well and enjoying these final weeks of summer!  We remain committed to keeping our families up-to-date on our plans for Fall 2020. 

    At our school, we have families responding to this crisis in a diverse fashion. Our approach to the 2020-2021 school year, like our approach to Jewish practice and sharing community, is a pluralist response. For some families, the choice to stay home and engage in our robust Virtual VBSDS program is the only model that will meet their needs. For some families, if the choice is available to be on campus for learning, that option will be essential. No matter where your family falls, we will be offering a high quality educational experience for the children of VBSDS. Regardless of the individual family choice, our School community will respect and honor the values of each family. We are also devoted to making sure that when we return to campus, as we did for Camp Kef this month, that our employees will work in an environment that is as safe as possible. This past week, we commemorated the destruction of the Temple through the holiday of Tisha B’Av. The Rabbis teach us that one of the reasons for the destruction was the “senseless hatred,” sinat chinam, between Jew and Jew. As this virus continues to impact all of us, we must stand for equanimity, we must stand for justice, and above all we must continue to treat each other with kindness.  

    This entire pandemic has been an exercise in learning what we have control over and what we do not. At this moment, through our partnership with the ECC, we are able to offer kindergarten families the choice to either learn through Virtual VBSDS or to engage in on campus learning. Until there is further movement within state leadership and the LA County Department of Public Health on the process of a safe return to campus, our students in grades 1-6 will participate in a robust, immersive and updated, Virtual VBSDS program.

    As we shared with you last week, as part of the guidelines set forth for the safe reopening for schools, Governor Newsom announced a waiver (or a way) to open on campus as long as two steps are followed. The first is to present an application with elements that have not yet been announced to us in entirety. As soon as the application is available, we will share this with our School community. While there has been a lot of media attention about the waiver, the final word on what the application process will look like and how the application will be submitted has not yet been made public. The second step for safe reopening is especially important. We all need to do our part to reduce the transmission of the virus. Covering our faces, washing hands and staying physically distant from others outside of our households will be an essential step toward not only public safety and the greater good, but also to our reopening on campus. In consultation with the VBSDS Board of Trustees, our community will apply for this waiver in order to prepare us for a safe reopening and to give our families a choice. We have been working closely with the County in preparation for this process so that once the application goes live, we can complete it quickly.

    This LA County Department of Public Health waiver application will be available to all public and private LA County elementary schools. We do know that approval of the waiver is based on the strength of health and safety protocols in place at schools, as well as local health data. This means that even if we obtain the waiver, we may not be able to open until the local epidemiological data meets the safety criteria of the state, county and the CDC. This is a metrics driven process, informed and supported by local epidemiological data. Ultimately, schools will not be able to open unless science supports the conclusion that it is safe to do so. Yesterday, VBS sent an email to the entire VBS community urging members to participate in a weekly LA County texting program. The program was created to collect accurate, local data about the spread of COVID-19 in communities across Los Angeles. The more people participate, the more accurate the numbers will be. This data is what will help inform whether or not VBSDS can provide on-campus learning options this fall.

    The waiver process, like so much of this pandemic, is uncharted territory. We are unsure of the turnaround time, but are doing everything we can to have on-campus learning available as a choice this fall. As a school rooted in social emotional learning, we believe it is developmentally important to provide a safe on campus option so that our students have the most impactful experience possible. We are making plans to implement COVID-19 testing for all VBS schools prior to the start of the semester and our hope is to make this available with regularity moving forward.

    Many of you have heard about local elementary schools that are transforming their programs into “day camps” in order to run year round and remain open on campus. We have been advised that applying to become a day camp would risk our valued accreditation through the California Association of Independent schools, which is a constant source of integrity and support to our school and leadership. Whether virtually or on campus, our school will offer a robust, social emotional based curriculum that will be rigorous while being mindful of the soul of each student.

    Our in-person Camp Kef just finished three healthy weeks of programming and has run remarkably well with students wearing face coverings, washing hands MANY times per day, physically distancing and following the same protocols we will have in place for the school year. We are proud to announce that a surprise visit from the Los Angeles County Department of Health yielded a glowing report and our camp met and surpassed all health and safety requirements set forth by the County.

    As we head into Shabbat, I seek some peace from all of this. Peace is different than certainty. We will continue to update you on this ever-evolving situation and know that I am here to answer any questions you may have. In the interim, please remember that we all must do our part to slow the spread of the virus. Wear a face covering, physically distance from those outside of your household, and wash your hands frequently.  There is great individual and communal power in these three actions. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we navigate this new territory together as one community.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 07/22/2020 - Important Update: Kindergarten

    Dear VBSDS Community,

    I hope you are doing well and enjoying these final weeks of summer!  We remain committed to keeping our families up-to-date on our plans for Fall 2020. 

    At our school, we have families responding to this crisis in a diverse fashion. Our approach to the 2020-2021 school year, like our approach to Jewish practice and sharing community, is a pluralist response. For some families, the choice to stay home and engage in our robust Virtual VBSDS program is the only model that will meet their needs. For some families, if the choice is available to be on campus for learning, that option will be essential. No matter where your family falls, we will be offering a high quality educational experience for the children of VBSDS. Regardless of the individual family choice, our School community will respect and honor the values of each family. We are also devoted to making sure that when we return to campus, as we did for Camp Kef this month, that our employees will work in an environment that is as safe as possible. This past week, we commemorated the destruction of the Temple through the holiday of Tisha B’Av. The Rabbis teach us that one of the reasons for the destruction was the “senseless hatred,” sinat chinam, between Jew and Jew. As this virus continues to impact all of us, we must stand for equanimity, we must stand for justice, and above all we must continue to treat each other with kindness.  

    This entire pandemic has been an exercise in learning what we have control over and what we do not. At this moment, through our partnership with the ECC, we are able to offer kindergarten families the choice to either learn through Virtual VBSDS or to engage in on campus learning. Until there is further movement within state leadership and the LA County Department of Public Health on the process of a safe return to campus, our students in grades 1-6 will participate in a robust, immersive and updated, Virtual VBSDS program.

    As we shared with you last week, as part of the guidelines set forth for the safe reopening for schools, Governor Newsom announced a waiver (or a way) to open on campus as long as two steps are followed. The first is to present an application with elements that have not yet been announced to us in entirety. As soon as the application is available, we will share this with our School community. While there has been a lot of media attention about the waiver, the final word on what the application process will look like and how the application will be submitted has not yet been made public. The second step for safe reopening is especially important. We all need to do our part to reduce the transmission of the virus. Covering our faces, washing hands and staying physically distant from others outside of our households will be an essential step toward not only public safety and the greater good, but also to our reopening on campus. In consultation with the VBSDS Board of Trustees, our community will apply for this waiver in order to prepare us for a safe reopening and to give our families a choice. We have been working closely with the County in preparation for this process so that once the application goes live, we can complete it quickly.

    This LA County Department of Public Health waiver application will be available to all public and private LA County elementary schools. We do know that approval of the waiver is based on the strength of health and safety protocols in place at schools, as well as local health data. This means that even if we obtain the waiver, we may not be able to open until the local epidemiological data meets the safety criteria of the state, county and the CDC. This is a metrics driven process, informed and supported by local epidemiological data. Ultimately, schools will not be able to open unless science supports the conclusion that it is safe to do so. Yesterday, VBS sent an email to the entire VBS community urging members to participate in a weekly LA County texting program. The program was created to collect accurate, local data about the spread of COVID-19 in communities across Los Angeles. The more people participate, the more accurate the numbers will be. This data is what will help inform whether or not VBSDS can provide on-campus learning options this fall.

    The waiver process, like so much of this pandemic, is uncharted territory. We are unsure of the turnaround time, but are doing everything we can to have on-campus learning available as a choice this fall. As a school rooted in social emotional learning, we believe it is developmentally important to provide a safe on campus option so that our students have the most impactful experience possible. We are making plans to implement COVID-19 testing for all VBS schools prior to the start of the semester and our hope is to make this available with regularity moving forward.

    Many of you have heard about local elementary schools that are transforming their programs into “day camps” in order to run year round and remain open on campus. We have been advised that applying to become a day camp would risk our valued accreditation through the California Association of Independent schools, which is a constant source of integrity and support to our school and leadership. Whether virtually or on campus, our school will offer a robust, social emotional based curriculum that will be rigorous while being mindful of the soul of each student.

    Our in-person Camp Kef just finished three healthy weeks of programming and has run remarkably well with students wearing face coverings, washing hands MANY times per day, physically distancing and following the same protocols we will have in place for the school year. We are proud to announce that a surprise visit from the Los Angeles County Department of Health yielded a glowing report and our camp met and surpassed all health and safety requirements set forth by the County.

    As we head into Shabbat, I seek some peace from all of this. Peace is different than certainty. We will continue to update you on this ever-evolving situation and know that I am here to answer any questions you may have. In the interim, please remember that we all must do our part to slow the spread of the virus. Wear a face covering, physically distance from those outside of your household, and wash your hands frequently.  There is great individual and communal power in these three actions. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we navigate this new territory together as one community.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 07/01/2020 - Response to Newsom's Announcement

    Dear VBS Day School Families,

    As this pandemic continues, we are working so hard to ensure a quality educational and community experience for our families. We realize that Governor Newsom’s message today about schools, both public and private, has raised questions and we are working to clarify his message and what it means for us. 
     
    We will be in touch soon with more information, but wanted to reach out because we know many of you have concerns. 
     
    In the event that the school year must begin with Virtual VBSDS, we are prepared to transition to school on campus at a moment's notice.

    We also want to share a few things that we know for sure:
    • Our core business is relationships, not only education, and our community is well-positioned to continue to offer you and your family the support necessary to get through this pandemic
    • Once LA County is off the “county watch list”, VBSDS will pivot from virtual learning to safe on campus instruction
    • We are committed to further professional development for our teachers to enhance our Virtual VBSDS learning platform
    • We have practiced our daily protocols at Camp Kef on campus and we have been preparing to open for fall. We have purchased sanitizing equipment, furniture and other necessary items to practice the three science based principles of reducing the spread of COVID-19:
      • Physical Distancing
      • Mask Wearing
      • Hand Washing

    • We are also preparing our classrooms with a Zoom-in option, in order to accommodate families for whom a return to campus may not feel safe
    We also wanted to share that this week we successfully opened Camp Kef on the VBS campus. Our safety protocols, communications and infrastructure have been running smoothly and kids and staff are so happy to be back together...six feet apart! 
     
    As the sun sets tonight for Shabbat, the most important commitment we need to make is to each other and to our children. Please follow the three protocols above to reduce the spread of this terrible virus. When you can stay home, please stay home. When you must go out, please wear a mask, wash your hands and keep a physical distance from others not in your household. We truly believe that if we commit to these practices we will be able to save lives. The sooner we practice together, the sooner we can resume in person instruction. It is our shared responsibility as a community.

    We really miss seeing all of you in person and we have so much momentum to start our 2020-2021 school year. In the meantime, stay safe, and we will reach out soon.
     
    Warmly,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School 

A Message from Our School Leadership

Safety Protocols

List of 5 items.

  • Athletics

    • All student activities will be guided by local health official requirements and governing bodies
    • We are designing experiences for both in-person and virtual modalities
    • Our creative coaches are already planning for outdoor physically distant, engaging and safe activities for our students
  • Campus Environment

    • Updated furniture has been ordered to best meet the needs of students while keeping physical distance
    • Signage for physically distanced movement are placed throughout campus and will be observed
    • Staggered drop-off and pick-up times will be part of the school schedule
    • Access to campus will be limited to faculty, staff, and students.  At this time, parents and visitors will access campus remotely or visit only with special permission.  Our hope is that as restrictions ease, we will be able to welcome everyone back.
    • Large events will remain online, including Kabbalat Shabbat, celebrations, Parent Organization meetings, and admission events.
  • Health and Safety

    • Masks will be required for everyone: faculty, staff and students
    • Each day, all people entering campus will have their temperature checked and answer health screening questions
    • Handwashing will be scheduled and frequent
    • Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes will be available in each classroom and around campus
    • Each classroom will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected each evening with the additional use of a new Clorox Total 360 disinfectant spray system
    • High-touch surfaces and bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day
    • Students will bring lunch or have the option to purchase lunches through LA|Kosher (further details to come)
    • No-touch sinks, soap dispensers and hand dryers in restrooms have already been installed
  • Health and Wellness

    • Our full time school nurse, Marcie Spetner, R.N. will continue to inform our protocols and will continue to work with students during the school day
    • Our nurse’s office is being renovated to include an isolation room as recommended by the CDC
    • Our Director of Student Support Services will be available on campus as well as virtually
    • Our partnership with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (RULER) will continue to support the social-emotional well-being of all students. 
    • Faculty and staff will continue to meet weekly to address morale and well-being and celebrate meaningful moments
  • Kehillot

    • To maintain physical distancing, students will be grouped into grade-level learning communities, Kehillot, of 12-16 students and will physically remain with this group of classmates for all school activities.
    • When creating learning communities, we will make every effort to support students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. In some cases, there may be three Kehillot per grade level, and we are staffing accordingly. 
    Classes may at times be taught in outdoor spaces.